In a previous blog post, I discussed compromised verdicts for Louisiana battery charges. Another common…
Recently we tried a criminal case where our client was facing significant jail time if convicted of a felony. While picking the jury, we noted that one of the prospective jurors was a former judge who was considered to be conservative. A criminal defense attorney might move to strike the former judge as a potential juror because they do not believe a conservative judge would be sympathetic to their client.
However, in this particular case, I felt that there was a lack of clear evidence against my client. The state must meet a certain standard of proof to convict – that is to prove the person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I felt that no judge in their right mind, whether liberal or conservative, would convict a person based upon the state’s lack of evidence.
Judges Can Be Less Emotional than other Jurors
If the victim appears emotional and sympathetic, a jury can be swayed to convict despite the evidence not actually supporting the victim’s story. A judge, however, can usually be less emotional and look at the actual facts and evidence of the case.
In this case, the evidence was extremely weak. I did not feel that the state would be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This turned out to be correct. The jury deliberated for less than one hour and came back with a not guilty verdict on all felony charges. My client escaped all jail time.
Experienced Criminal Attorneys Know How to Select a Good Jury
Picking a jury can be an art. There may be some aspects of a particular criminal case that will guide the jury selection process. Criminal trial attorneys who have experience can more easily weigh the pros and cons of potential jurors based on the evidence and circumstances of the case. In this instance it was best to select a conservative judge as a potential juror. In other instances it might be best to choose a different juror.
Jury selection is one aspect of the criminal trial process that can make a difference in the outcome. Knowing which jurors to select comes from criminal trial experience. When you are selecting an attorney to represent you against a criminal charge, experience is key. Is the lawyer experienced with criminal trials? If so, how many criminal cases has the lawyer actually taken to trial? Have there been any not guilty verdicts or reduced charge verdicts?